From how to keep your jewelry clean, to packing for vacation, to which gems need protection from the sand and surf, consider this your definitive guide to summer jewelry care. Here are 10 tips to help you keep your fine jewelry in great condition, through the dog days of summer and beyond!
It may seem obvious, but knowing some basic facts about the types of gems you wear is essential to ensuring their longevity. Many gems are sensitive to abrasives, such as a sandy beach or a chlorinated pool. Some gems will change color over time if left in the sun for too long, or dry out and crack from improper storage. Porous gems can become discolored if they come in contact with lotions or cosmetics. Take a few minutes to research your gem if you are unsure about its properties. The GIA’s website is a great resource for this, or stop into your local jewelry store for expert advice. Here are several popular gems and a list of their sensitivities:
Opal – porous, excessive heat or exposure to chemicals or abrasives can cause damage; shock sensitive, excessive vibration or sudden change in light can cause damage
Emerald – chemicals can remove the cedar oil the gem is commonly treated with
Pearl – porous, excessive heat or exposure to chemicals or abrasives can cause damage
Turquoise – porous, natural oils can cause darkening, exposure to chemicals or abrasives can cause damage
Amethyst – light sensitive, prolonged exposure to sunlight can fade color
Amber – very soft, exposure to chemicals or abrasives can cause damage; light sensitive, prolonged exposure to sunlight can darken color
Topaz – light sensitive, prolonged exposure to sunlight can fade color
Coral – porous, exposure to chemicals or abrasives can cause damage
Summer means swimming, sandcastles, tennis, and barbecue – all activities that could pose a hazard to your fine jewelry. Once you’ve learned about your gems, you’ll know which activities to avoid when wearing certain pieces. However, you can just keep it simple: save the beautiful jewelry for the evening soirees and Sunday brunch!
If you tend to travel with multiple pieces of jewelry, it’s worth investing in a storage case specially designed for jewelry. The key is to keep each piece separate from one another, so you can avoid metals rubbing against each other, or a harder stone (such as a diamond) scratching a softer stone (such as a garnet). In a pinch, you can pack each piece in its own small plastic bag. Just be sure not to keep pearls in plastic for prolonged periods of time, as they can dry out.
Of course you want to show off that beautiful necklace you just bought, but having pictures of your jewelry is also important for insurance purposes. Having proof of ownership is key if your jewelry is lost or stolen while you’re on vacation, and could help you recoup your losses much faster.
It is common for your fingers to swell in the summer due to the heat. You may find that some of your favorite rings don’t fit anymore. It might be a good idea for you to get your ring sized up by a quarter size so you can continue to wear it comfortably through the warmer months. At Market Square Jewelers, we offer ring sizing for a small fee and often work with customers whose ring sizes change throughout the year. Click here to find a location near you.
When cleaning your jewelry yourself, err on the side of caution. Most gemstones can be suitably cleaned with warm soapy water (not detergents) and a soft toothbrush. If you don’t have special metal cleaners, gold can be cleaned with diluted Windex, while sterling silver benefits from a solution of baking soda. As always, take great care when polishing jewelry with gemstones, as some polishing solutions and pastes can be too abrasive for soft or porous gems. Make sure your jewelry is completely dry before storing, and finish buffing with a polishing cloth. If you are unsure on the proper method to clean a particular jewelry item, Market Square Jewelers is happy to help at any of our store locations.
When the weather gets warm, keep your jewelry choices light and airy. Antique jewelry is perfect for summer, because it is more lightweight than modern styles. Also, antique gold has a warmth to it that looks great next to sun-kissed skin. An Art Nouveau era lavalier pendant is perfect for pairing with a plunging neckline, while Victorian cigar bands make great midi rings.
While traveling on vacation, you may come across jewelry by street vendors that is too tempting to pass up, but remember: if the price of a piece seems too good to be true, it is. Turquoise especially is often imitated and sold as the real thing at a lower price. (Click here to learn how to spot fake turquoise). If you don’t want to end up with a green wrist from your new bracelet, check the marks on the metal. Real gold will be stamped with the carat weight, while sterling silver will either be marked “925” or a variation of “STERLING”.
Some people like to wear their jewelry seasonally. Make sure you are storing your “winter jewelry” properly so you don’t have a bunch of cleaning and repair work to do when the weather gets cold again. Just like when you pack your jewelry for travel, store each item individually. Use soft cloth bags to protect your pieces, while still allowing them to “breath”. Choose a jewelry box that has spaces for different kinds of pieces, keeping your collection organized.
By following these 10 essential tips, you can make the most out of your summer jewelry wardrobe. As always, stop into any Market Square Jewelers for jewelry repair services, cleaning tips, and personalized advice for maintaining your fine jewelry. Have a great summer!